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Agriculture News

Can more candor win back support for animal research?

Science Magazine | Posted on June 28, 2018

As soon as the big yellow school bus pulls into the parking lot of the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) here, it’s clear that many of the high school students on board don’t know what they’ve signed up for. They know that science happens somewhere on this wooded, 70-hectare campus west of Portland—and that they may get to see monkeys—but everything else is a mystery. “Are we going to go into some giant underground lair?” asks a lanky sophomore in a hoodie, imagining that the center is set up like a video game or Jurassic Park.  Diana Gordon is here to disabuse him of both notions. As the education and outreach coordinator of the country’s largest primate research center, she spends her days guiding students, Rotary clubs, and even wedding parties through the facility. Here, visitors see monkeys in their habitats and meet scientists—all while learning, Gordon hopes, that the animals are well-treated and the research is critical for human health. “If we don’t speak up, there’s only one side being heard,” she says. “The side that wants to shut us down.”

A tale of two ICE raids

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on June 28, 2018

What to make of the nearly back-to-back raids at meat plants in Tennessee and Ohio by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)? Let's set aside, for a moment, the discussion of the role of undocumented workers in an industry desperate for warm bodies to keep up with demand. They are here illegally, the law says they go back home. These raids set off a firestorm of debate over immigration and employment within the industry. From the perspective of those outside the industry — which is almost everybody — all meat processors look shady. But what are a company's options, if participating in the government's own programs isn't a guarantee? No database as large and far-flung as E-verify or even the IMAGE program is going to be foolproof. But if companies are going to put the time and investment into participating, there ought to be an alternative to the headline-grabbing raids by gun-toting federal officers. i thought it strange, actually, to read the comments under our news coverage of the Ohio raid. They centered on the need to protect our borders at any cost and on welfare reform to get under- and unemployed American workers into the plants, much like the comments that followed our reports on the raid at Southeastern Provision. Nobody mentioned Fresh Mark's efforts to remain on the right side of immigration law. I read the reports and was concerned about federal overreach, a zealous pursuit of immigration enforcement at the expense of fair treatment of employers. 

North Carolina hog farmers win new protections as lawmakers override Roy Cooper's veto

Charlotte News Observer | Posted on June 28, 2018

North Carolina will place new limits on how and when neighbors of hog farms can sue the agriculture businesses next door. The state legislature gave final approval on to a bill that restricts nuisance lawsuits against farms and other livestock and forestry operations. The state House voted 74 to 45 in the morning to override a veto that Gov. Roy Cooper issued. The Senate voted to reverse the governor's action. “Overriding this veto and correcting Gov. Cooper’s unwise decision sends the clear message to our family farmers and rural communities that they have a voice in the legislature and that this General Assembly intends to give them the respect they deserve," Sen. Brent Jackson, a Sampson County Republican and farmer, said in a statement. "This was never a partisan issue or about politics, but about doing what is right, and I am glad we had bipartisan support in both chambers as we stand up for our farmers."

California to vote on new farm animal confinement laws

Watt Ag Net | Posted on June 28, 2018

Petitioners gain enough signatures to place law that would require all eggs. pork and beefr produced and sold in California to be from cage-free systems. Californians will vote this fall on whether to strengthen the state’s laws governing how farm animals are confined and raised.The proposed measure that qualified for the November ballot late Friday builds on a previous voter-approved initiative and a separate state law.In 2008, Californians passed Proposition 2. It required egg-laying hens, pregnant pigs and calves raised for veal to be placed in cages big enough for them to lie down, stand up, turn around freely and fully extend their limbs.Two years later, the Legislature passed a law that bans the sale in California of shelled eggs from hens raised in violation of those standards — even eggs that come from out-of-state.Both efforts, which took effect in 2015, have so far survived legal challenges, though the latest federal lawsuit is still pending.Now, animal rights advocates led by the Humane Society are back with a new initiative.It would increase the minimum space requirements in which those animals could be confined. And it would expand the ban on sales to pork, veal and liquid eggs — including products grown outside California.

Gov. Walker announces $700,000 in grants to support entrepreneurship in dairy industry

Wisconsin State Farmer | Posted on June 28, 2018

Governor Scott Walker today visited the Center for Dairy Research (CDR) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Great Lake Cheese to award $700,000 state grants to support and promote entrepreneurship within the state’s $43 billion dairy industry. The grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will enable CDR to continue to provide companies with grants of up to $20,000 to support the commercialization of unique dairy technologies and products. Launched in 2013, the Tech Transfer, University, Research and Business Opportunity (TURBO) Program has helped 11 companies purchase equipment needed for new products or processes. To date, this program has helped create or retain 29 jobs in rural communities. “The TURBO program has a proven track record of success in a legacy industry that employs nearly 80,000 people statewide,” said Governor Walker. “We must continue to invest in programs like this to ensure that dairy-related businesses can continue to compete in an ever-changing environment.”

Canada, Japan Move Closer to CPTPP Ratification

International Centre for Trade and Susatinable Development | Posted on June 28, 2018

Legislation to ratify the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is making its way through both the Canadian and Japanese legislatures, officials say, bringing the deal closer to entering into force.  Earlier this month, Canadian international trade minister François-Philippe Champagne pledged that his government would work “expeditiously” to advance the ratification process, though the final passage of the legislation may not take place before autumn, according to comments reported in Canadian newspaper iPolitics.  The 11 signatories of the CPTPP include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. They signed the deal in March during a ceremony in Chile.  he CPTPP incorporates the original TPP agreement, pledging to slash tariffs on 95 percent of trade in goods, along with covering a host of trade topics, ranging from technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phytosanitary measures to competition policy and intellectual property rights. The renewed deal suspends a number of the TPP’s original provisions, especially from the chapter on intellectual property rights. A few other provisions were suspended in chapters such as environment, investment, and public procurement. 

Why care about undocumented immigrants?

San Francisco Gate | Posted on June 28, 2018

While the nation’s attention is currently focused on the southern border, what’s being forgotten is that millions of undocumented immigrants continue to live in the U.S. – and most of them work. And in fact, these workers play vital roles in the U.S. economy, erecting American buildings, picking American apples and grapes, and taking care of American babies. Oh, and paying American taxes. Pew Research Center estimates that about 11.3 million people are currently living in the U.S. without authorization, down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007. More than half come from Mexico, and about 15 percent come from other parts Latin America. About 8 million of them have jobs, making up 5 percent of the U.S. workforce, figures that have remained more or less steady for the past decade. Their representation in particular industries is even more pronounced, and the Department of Agriculture estimates that about half of the nation’s farmworkers are unauthorized, while 15 percent of those in construction lack papers – more than the share of legal immigrants in either industry. In the service sector, which would include jobs such as fast food and domestic help, the figure is about 9 percent. Further studies show that the importance of this population of workers will only grow in coming years. For example, in 2014, unauthorized immigrants made up 24 percent of maids and cleaners, an occupation expected to need 112,000 more workers by 2024. In construction, the number of additional laborers needed is estimated at close to 150,000. And while only 4 percent of personal care and home health aides are undocumented, the U.S. will soon require more than 800,000 people to fill the jobs necessary to take care of retiring baby boomers.

USDA surveys small, very small establishments

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on June 28, 2018

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is conducting a survey to “help enhance the creation and delivery of information and resources” for small and very small meat and poultry processing and slaughter establishments, the agency said in a news release. FSIS is emailing a survey link to small and very small establishments that slaughter or process livestock or poultry. Owners will have about 30 days to complete the survey.

Small area farms feel effect of labor shortage

Toledo Blade | Posted on June 28, 2018

But in recent years, Ohio’s migrant work force has dwindled, with dire consequences for small to midsize growers, like Johnston. After more than 70 years’ worth of strawberries, the farm — which Mr. Mora now runs with his wife, Martha — has canceled its signature crop for lack of labor. “Thirty years ago, there used to be migrant workers everywhere,” said Mr. Mora, who became a co-owner when he married into the family. “Now, it’s like this.” Mr. Mora noticed a decline about 12 years ago, when regular workers began to lose touch — a grim surprise on a farm where, historically, those who come, stay. Before the drop-off, many migrants had been working at Johnston for more than 20 years. Now, though, “they don’t show up,” Mr. Mora said, leaning on a table in a vacant sales room. By necessity, the Moras started scaling back, bit by bit. Over the past decade, they have reduced their farm’s active acreage from 30 acres to seven to fit their work force, which, during strawberry season, has shrunk from about 15 to three. The downsize isn’t unique in a region dotted with family farms and beset by agricultural labor shortages. As the United States has sought to curb the inflow of illegal immigrant workers, farmers have increasingly turned to federal programs like the H2A guest worker visa, which allows farmers expecting shortages of U.S. labor to employ foreign workers legally without hurting American jobs.

Commodity prices decline, farmer suicides rise

Feedstuffs | Posted on June 28, 2018

Ag suicides are the greatest unreported tragedy of its kind in America and around the world. If veteran suicide in America is epidemic, ag suicide is pandemic. Here's the hard data: Suicides among a group labeled Farming/Fishing/Forestry totaled 84.5 per hundred thousand. Far behind in second place was Construction/Extraction at 53.3 per hundred thousand. A few weeks ago, Washington state legislators unanimously passed House Bill 2671 which establishes a pilot program for free suicide prevention for employees of the agriculture industry. It seems to be similar to a proposed nationwide program called the Farm & Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) program that you’ve suggested in the past. Is that state on the leading edge? Should other states consider something similar?A. Yes, the Washington state initiative is modeled after the Sowing the Seeds of Hope project and FRSAN. Minnesota has already implemented a farm crisis hotline that does well-attended community farmer meetings, and visits to farms by trained counselors/business consultants, all funded through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. I've heard that Illinois and Colorado are considering something similar.(Rosmann sent this statement taken from a paper he wrote last year). The Nebraska Rural Response Helpline (1-800-464-0258) is a laudatory example of both governmental and private underwriting of the operation of a particularly useful behavioral health program for farmers and all rural residents of Nebraska. The Helpline depends on an annual state-wide non-tithe church collection, grants from private organizations, and on the Nebraska legislature to cover its costs.All these entities pitch in to support the operation of the statewide telephone and website to offer crisis assistance to Nebraska’s farm and rural populations, along with redeemable vouchers to obtain one or more counseling sessions from professionals who are familiar with agriculture.